Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mamadou Diabate, African Kora Virtuoso, and His Album "Courage"

The best of the West African kora players (a 21-string harp) rival the musicianship and imagination of players of any instrument, anywhere in the world. Mali's Mamadou Diabate is one of those. His fifth album, Courage (World Village 468108), gives you ample opportunity to hear some wonderful sounds, traditional yet contemporary enough to include a western bass player in addition to African xylophone and three instrumentalists who might ordinarily be found in such ensembles

This is music that is likely to appeal to listeners who may not have much exposure to the African musical heritage; and it will impress anyone who knows the kora tradition. The kora, especially in the hands of a master like Mamadou, has a unique beauty and a gently exuberant presence playing atop an accompaniment of insistently but subtly rocking rhythm and note patterns. There are ensemble passages of a compositional nature. Each piece concentrates on particular rhythm feels, a tonality, thematic material and ensemble-melodic signposts.

Mamadou Diabate is a beautiful player. The music will enchant you if you give it time to work its ways. Highly recommended.

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